Women are still living the burden of the “double workplace”

But its not just a workplace question — its a society question.

“We know — based on a wealth of research and experience — Empowering women can be an economic game changer for any country” — Christine LaGuarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund.

A new report entitled “The Power of Parity: Advancing women’s equality in Canada", released on June 20th, by McKinsey Global Institute has again opened up the discussion about gender equality in the workplace. According to the report, taking steps to fix gender inequality in the workplace could give Canada’s economy a $150-billion “shot in the arm”.

McKinsey Global Institute found that gender inequality in Canadian workplaces isn’t just holding women back, it’s bad for the economy as a whole. However, this isn’t just a problem in Canada, its a global problem. Christine LaGuarde, Head of the International Monetary Fund also spoke about this. In a post entitled “Women’s Empowerment: An Economic Game Changer” , she indicated that if women were to participate in the labor force to the same extent as men, national incomes could increase by 5 percent in the U.S., 9 percent in Japan, and 27 percent in India.

Despite outnumbering men in higher education, women still significantly lag behind their male counterparts as they enter their working years, and are drastically underrepresented in terms of being promoted into higher-paying positions.

However, this isn’t just about hiring and promoting women, its also about giving women the flexibility to thrive without being penalized if they have to take time to care for their families.

It should be about imposing harsher penalties on companies making women redundant after maternity leave, and harsher consequences for those not allowing people to work flexibly.

Its about women like Julie Cheffetz, who after returning to work at Amazon from maternity leave — with a cancer diagnosis — was given a dubious performance appraisal that ultimately led to her resignation.

Its about single women with kids who juggle the demands of being a single mom and a 9 to 5 job, without the support of their employers. I became widowed at 31, eight weeks after giving birth to my second child. I became the breadwinner for my family — basically overnight. I had to find my way through early widowhood, parenting and my career.

Like many women, I was and still am living the double workplace.

However, this is not just a workplace question — its a society question.

Many single fathers are also in the same position. This is a society question. This is a question of the legacy we want to leave for our kids and grandkids.

Measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved — B. R. Ambedkar

The McKinsey report, suggests several best practices readily available for forward-thinking organizations to start taking baby steps toward equality:

- Don’t just talk — do: Half of companies say gender diversity is a strategic priority, but less than one in six had made a clear business case to change the way they operate.

- Set targets, track and share results and be accountable: Fifty-five per cent of companies lack targets for female representation, and 75 per cent do not track female recruitment nor reward leaders for fostering gender diversity.

- Create mentorships: Men are 50 per cent more likely to attribute their advancement to a senior leader than women are, yet 80 per cent of companies lack a formal sponsorship program.

- Be more flexible even after promotions: Most companies offer long-term leave or part-time programs, but 58 per cent of employees believe that taking advantage of them hurts their career progression.

  • Be aware of unconscious bias: Women comprise only one-quarter of senior leaders, but 80 per cent of employees think their company is inclusive.
“Economically empowering women is ‘macrocritical’ — IMF chief Christine Lagarde